Were it not for the large cross in the middle of the window, one could be forgiven for thinking that a new development in Glasgow’s East End was a modern doctor’s surgery or even offices.
But Garthamlock and Craigend East Parish Church on Porchester Street is one of two new rejuvenated churches to open its doors in the fast regenerating areas of the city along with St George’s and St Peter’s Church, on Sunday. Both churches built to replace the original buildings are a symbol of the Kirk’s commitment to ministry throughout.
With light and airy surrounding it is only when you enter the main hall and notice the main window with its panes separated by the shape of the cross that you realise that Garthamlock and Craigend East Parish Church is a place of worship.
Rev Dr Val Duff, minister of the church for the last 14 years, said she and her congregation are looking forward to new and exciting times ahead with their new church. Dr Duff sees their new church building as a symbol of the regeneration of the area and the Kirk’s commitment to the neighbourhood.
Dr Duff said: “Garthamlock itself is undergoing huge changes and the whole area is being regenerated. In a time of church cutbacks this is hugely exciting and the new church building is a symbol of the regeneration of not just of Garthamlock and Craigend Parish Church but the whole community. The old church was a product of its day built more than 50 years ago but our new building is the next stage of the church’s life and we are looking forward to its future now.”
It is a sentiment shared by Rev Malcolm Cuthbertson, minister at St George’s and St Peter’s, Boyndie Street.
The original church building suffered severe storm damage in 1998 and the sanctuary had to be demolished.
Mr Cuthbertson said:”It was a struggle to maintain our church status but now we’ve reached the end of the road with the rebuilding of it and we’re looking forward to taking over the new church building. We’re all very excited about being able to have our first service there on September 5.”
The original churches were built in the 1950s and 1960s but by the late 1990s both buildings were beginning to show their age. The best option it was decided would be to replace them and new churches were scheduled to be built alongside a major housing redevelopment site.
Finance for the new buildings was provided through the Church of Scotland’s Priority Areas Committee with the design and construction led by the Central Properties Department.
The challenge of developing a suitable design for each site that reflected the needs and aspirations of two very different congregations was heightened by strict budget limitations. It was important that the design of each building respected the changing context in which they would be set.
James F Stephen Architects were appointed as the design team leaders. Previous working partnership experience would be essential in these projects to maximise the potential outcome for both developments.
The designs remained “simple” in terms of the construction process to keep costs low but nonetheless both buildings have a high quality specification. Constructed with timber frames and facing brick and concrete externally, the buildings are of a robust nature externally whilst internally the careful use of space has provided multi-roomed buildings with sanctuaries that will provide the dignity for worship yet equally provide activity space for a variety of purposes.
Communication is a vital aspect within any church building and the churches make good use of the latest audio-visual technologies throughout.
When opened, the new churches will provide a focus for the congregations and the communities, bringing opportunities for the future that the original buildings had over 50 years ago.